Hitters struggle against Medlen's changeup

(The Atlanta Braves host the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Wild Card, Friday at 5 ET on ESPN Radio.)

The Atlanta Braves Kris Medlen has one of baseball’s nastiest changeups, and it was a major reason for his success in 2012. Medlen netted misses on 40 percent of the swings taken against his changeup (the major-league average is about 30 percent).

The pitch became even more valuable once Medlen converted to full-time starter. In the 12 games Medlen started, hitters missed on 49 percent of the swings against his changeup.

Medlen this season threw strikes 75 percent of the time with his changeup -- that was the highest rate in baseball for anyone who threw at least 200 changeups.

Interestingly, Friday’s opposing pitcher, Kyle Lohse, had the seventh-highest strike rate at 72 percent.

Kris Medlen’s Changeup
This Season

David Ross, and not Brian McCann, will start at catcher for the Braves in the one-game playoff. Ross has done a very good job catching Medlen this season. This season with Ross behind the plate (44⅓ innnings), Medlen’s ERA is 0.81 with an opponent batting average of .190. With McCann (92⅔ innings), Medlen’s ERA is 1.75 and opponents hit .211.

For the season, Ross threw out 14 of 33 runners (42.4) attempting to steal. McCann threw out only 17 of 93.

The Cardinals’ best bat against right-handed changeups is Carlos Beltran. Against right-handed pitching, Beltran misses one out of every six swings on changeups. He hit .286 with a team-high four home runs on at-bats that ended with a changeup.